Galactic Empire Archive : Superimposing a Near-Future Library Space with Mixed Reality Video Game.


The Pandemic Menace

During the everlasting COVID-19 pandemic, technology has evolved by the degree of multiplication and not by a small margin any longer. Physical distancing forces us to distance ourselves from others, thus empowering us to utilize technologies to create a virtual world to connect us with others without realizing it. Today, we created a virtual space where we can meet together inside a “room” on our computer screen. Imagine what the accommodating technology will look like for us to interact with each other in 2025?

Public space in the pandemic future will mutate to form that might be unrecognizable. Mixed reality might be a normal phenomenon within our daily life. Long gone are the time of staring at a flat-screen attending meeting your friends inside your small room. In the future, you might meet them physically within a physical virtual world. Current public spaces might be abandoned. Most of the ongoing government revitalization of public space might need re-revitalization again in 2025, responding to the technology and the everlasting pandemics. Some public spaces will still exist at that time but might be forgotten. This possibility sparks interests to delve further into superimposing the virtual realm and the reality to revive the spirit of public spaces.

Attack of The Digital Realm

Virtuality could create a new form of architecture that is freed from or still grounded to reality. Heterotopia, a theory proposed by Michael Foucault in 1966, is described as a certain space that is somehow ‘other’: disturbing, incompatible, contradictory, or transforming. Heterotopias are worlds within world. This perfectly describes the relationship between virtual spaces and physical space.

On this experimental project, the Virtual context will have a stark difference from the reality itself to prove the limitless boundary of it even when placed into the physical world. As a personal preference, the Star Wars Universe was chosen to be superimposed with reality. It was chosen because of its parallelism with real-world context phenomenon. It tells the story of a struggle within an oppressed realm where the war for freedom rages around the galaxy. It can become a powerful tool to deliver a propaganda of war, hope, and respect for the veterans and heroes. Millennials are often disconnected from the context of war and disregard the struggle of the past due to them being ignorant or cannot relate themselves with it. Star Wars virtual realm, when placed and superimposed with a specific reality condition should spark interest and awareness.

To translate the virtual context with architectural domain, we need to define what kind of virtual activity it contains by finding one that could preserve the intended message and also provoke interaction together in physical dimension between people?

Imagine if in 2025 flat-screen video games have been called vintage already. You might will run around physically within a virtual world, in a physical building, competing with your friends for the right to brag. Physical video games are chosen because of their interactivity, forcing interaction and mass participation, and can be conducted with the rule of social distancing.

First Person Style Games is chosen to be implemented into a physical-virtual activity because of its strong relation with Star Wars and the thumb rule of gameplay is seen from eye perspective. It needs a good virtual arena that requires a lot of variables of space, such as verticality. It is the aspect of allowing vertical traversal and difference of height relative to the ground. Layout and Program are also important to controls the flow and pace of the gameplay. What will happen if it is translated into a physical space and clashed with the physical context?

Revenge of the Physical Space

Mixed Reality cannot stand alone and will rely on physical spaces to function; thus, we need to define what kind of physical space to interfere. The chosen site was called as “Meesjesweeshuis”, located in Bubutan, Surabaya. It once was used as an orphanage then a hospital before its abandonment in 2010. It is deliberately chosen because of its rich history and relation to the colonial past. The designs of the existing building stands as a firm reminder of how colonialism cares nothing about the context.

The Library was chosen to be the physical context because it could then create a strong contrast with the virtual. The activity contained inside requires a specific atmosphere that can only scale and repetition. be conjured with a certain formal aspect such as The identity of what makes a library feels like a library, is the abundance of books, and the repetition of seemingly endless shelves of books giving a sense of drowning inside another place. The library could be argued as a physical form of Heterotopia, because of the evocative atmosphere created within it is otherworldly and different from the outside world (Gary P. Radford, 2015). This project could elevate the otherworldliness by clashing its function with the virtual one, not by elevating its “cathedral-like atmosphere” (Dickson, 1986), but rather by perhaps altering it.

“The common spatial aspect of war and the chosen gameplay genre is about rapid movement avoiding enemies while pumping your adrenaline trying to survive, a stark contradiction with a library where you mostly spent hours sitting at the corner reading books, contemplating, or drowned within awe to the vastness of library in silence. How can they be mixed? ”

A New Unknown

Merging two contrasted activity into one space creates various problem from architectural perspective. How can space overlaps with both functions exist and happening at the same time? The activity of physical game arena will happen sequentially or as a loop activity, while library activity could happen any time and not within a specific sequence. Verticality of spaces, which is the requirement of an engaging playing space by creating a dynamic circulation that goes around different elevations will also redefine the formal aspect of library; How can one read and getting the unique library atmosphere while staying in a dynamic space with a lot of ups and downs, turns, and winding corridors with a lot of people running around playing the game? The enclosure aspect such as openings, voids, and barriers of space will be experimented with to achieve a certain atmosphere that could enhance both virtual and conventional activities.

The difference of time-speed and movement of the people within the space will inevitably create an unknown condition to explore, with the game arena participants pace is faster and chaotic compared with the library visitor slower, structural pace. Space defamiliarization will occurs since its neither library nor a game arena any longer, but a hybrid one. People who read within the library might feel “invaded” or “different” that perhaps could put themselves as a captive of space, while the game arena participant will still acknowledge the readers as a passive participant within the virtual dimension. The opportunity of utilizing tropes to design the physical aesthetics such as style of the structure that could represent both realities. Imagine in what way the building form will mutate when it gets invaded by the virtual world ?

A Physical Study to Understand the Virtual

“What if Star Wars Universe collides with our world within the virtual fabric as a physical video game, and happens to take place within a Library ? What happens with spatial quality such as verticality, circulation and enclosure of the physical building when the virtual “invade” ?”


Some images collected from Google Images are used for educational purposes only, no copyright infringement intended.

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Radford, G. P., Radford, M. L., & Lingel, J. (2015). The library as heterotopia: Michel Foucault and the experience of library space. Journal of Documentation, 71(4), 733–751. doi:10.1108/jd-01–2014–0006

Video Game Level Designer at Crescent Moon Games